Chapman Cultural Center: Home for the Arts in Spartanburg

Chapman Cultural Center: Home for the Arts in Spartanburg

The Chapman Cultural Center campus in Spartanburg

Intro by Jennifer Evins, Executive Director, Chapman Cultural Center

Chapman Cultural Center’s mission is to provide cultural leadership for all of Spartanburg County. We are the leading local arts agency and we own and operate the Chapman Cultural Center in downtown Spartanburg.

In addition to our own programs in arts education, public art projects, and providing operational funding to local artists and non-profits, CCC serves as a cultural and entertainment destination with the co-location of 8 local nonprofit arts, science, and humanities organizations that manage their own staff and programs. A term we often use to describe our facility is that we are like a shopping mall for the arts. Because inside CCC, you’ll find classrooms, art and dance studios, a performing arts theater, and exhibit galleries!

Through these unprecedented times, we’ve had to increase our leadership role in responding to COVID-19 and setting the policies and procedures for how our campus operates and determine timing and protocol on how we reopen and serve our community.

For a century, Spartanburg has enjoyed a very strong cultural sector in our community. We believe that arts and culture are critical for quality of life, wellbeing, education, and economic development. That is why we are committed to pushing through these unprecedented times as our community wants the arts to be strong and vibrant when we reopen our communities.

Below is a “Q&A” with a few of the organizations that we fund through General Operating Support Grants, some of which are also located on our campus.

 

Artists’ Guild of Spartanburg, Carrie Caldwell, Executive Director

The Artists Guild of Spartanburg

What are you most looking forward to in the future when things start to open up?

We cannot wait to see everyone’s smiling faces in the gallery again! The Artists’ Guild has a wonderful line up of shows for the remainder of the year (beginning June 3rd) and we are looking forward to seeing our artists, patrons, and the public as they visit the gallery. If a Guild representative is not there, please be sure to sign our guestbook and leave a comment so that we know we had visitors! To ensure everyone’s safety, we will be installing clear markings in the gallery to help with social distancing, and hand sanitizer will be available at the door.

What kinds of permanent changes, for good or ill, do you think may come to your organization or to the arts in general from the after-effects of COVID-19?

We believe that going through COVID-19 has strengthened the arts community as a whole. We have seen our artists try new ways to work like socially distanced porch portraits, participating in Virtual Art Walk, selling their art online, and providing porch pick up for customers. We have witnessed artists pledging to buy art from another if one of their pieces sells- a kind of pay it forward that is heartwarming to see. We have also come together as an organization. Our board has been in contact regularly to discuss the trials facing the Artists’ Guild and at the core each member just wants to see the organization thrive. We would also like to give a big shoutout to the Chapman Cultural Center. The leadership they have provided at this time has been phenomenal – thank you to the entire Chapman family for all you have done to keep the arts alive during this time!

Teresa Hough, Executive Director, Ballet Spartanburg

Ballet Spartanburg, Teresa Hough, Executive Director

What have you been surprised by in terms of community support?

Ballet Spartanburg has been overwhelmed with the kindness of our community and beyond. We had and continue to have so many parents of our Center for Dance Education who understand the hard financial impact we faced when we had to close March 13th. The sense of Ballet Spartanburg family never faded. Our patrons and tickets holders who generously donated the money they had spent of tickets rather than asking for refunds for the last two ballets we had to postpone; we simply did not expect the gifts and donations. We felt such an enormous amount of love from our ballet patrons, families, businesses, and community.

 What are you most looking forward to in the future when things start to open up?

I think we are looking forward to the same thing everyone wants…. communicating face to face with the people we haven’t see in months even if it is at a distance, seeing smiling and laughing children, watching parents who are happy to see some sense of a routine outside of the home, dancers back in the studio, our audiences, just human connection with new modifications and tweaks, of course, to keep everyone safe. It will be strange with new adjustments, but we are ready and prepared to make those adjustments to dance again!

Spartanburg Science Center, Mary Levens, Interim Executive Director

Mary Levens, Interim Executive Director, Spartanburg Science Center

What creative ways have you found to reach your audiences? Have you found people to be responsive to virtual events?

The Spartanburg Science Center was fortunate to have our new Educational Director, Jesseca Kusher, on board when Covid-19 reared its head, and she was a master at developing virtual programming and delivering wonderfully fun lessons to the community. We realize that kids love to learn, and they love Jess! We received reviews from as far as Maine and Minnesota!

That alone showed the power of the Internet and the wonderful capability of delivering fun and exciting science to kids of all ages. It was obvious that humans relate to animals and some of the animals housed at the SSC have become instant “internet stars”! We also noticed that the animals seemed to miss having folks visit and interact with them. I guess you could say it was really too quiet around here—we were in every day to feed and they seemed searching for the kids!

I think too much of anything can be overload, and the virtual events were plentiful, but I think we will have visitors coming once we open to see these great animals in person. The good thing about virtual events is that parents can choose when to view them, some saving them and some watching live! The part we really miss is watching kids and adults marvel at the wonderful animals we have when they meet face to face. We are hoping to see folks soon in the science center! We will be holding summer camps virtually as well as face to face beginning June 8th. I cannot wait to see our kids again!

What have you been surprised by in terms of community support?

We have enjoyed support by the Spartanburg Community for over 40 years! We were frankly hoping for continued support during this crisis and we were not disappointed! Most of our work is done in the schools and after school programming. Birthday parties on the weekends help provide the budget to feed our animals. All of those sources stopped on March 13, 2020! We put out the call for leftovers of vegetables and fruits and the call was answered! Restaurants like The Deli Korner and Willy Taco’s jumped to our aid! The food leftovers we received from private citizens and these restaurants were enough to get us through to this point. We are now back buying food and hoping to generate funds through our summer camps to make sure everything continues normally. We have received some private donations, which was most surprising, as the economic situation affected everyone!

I really cannot say THANK YOU! enough or loud enough to the community for remembering us! We always strive to deliver a top program wherever we go and Spartanburg remembered and is thinking of us during this time! We are anxiously waiting for our regular clients to return and new folks to come and see the science center that is still here! THANK YOU SPARTANBURG COMMUNITY!

 

Hub City Writers Project, Rebecca Arrowsmith, Bookshop Events and Marketing Manager

Rebecca Arrowsmith, Hub City Bookshop Events and Marketing Manager

What collaborations have you formed that you hadn’t thought to do before this?

During this hard time for all of us, there are a few positive things happening at the Hub City Writers Project and a big one is the opportunity to virtually meet amazing writers that we wouldn’t ordinarily connect with due to the distances between us. With the help of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, we’ve been able to bring bestselling authors right into our customer’s living rooms. Our patrons were even invited to an exclusive book club with National Book Award winner, Susan Choi! Writers need readers just as much as readers need writers. We are, and always have been, in this together.

What creative ways have you found to reach your audiences?

As an organization built on community narratives, we’ve leveraged the impact of COVID-19 to return to our roots and curate a new WPA-style blog series titled Sheltering in Spartanburg. The blog spotlights how local writers, artists, service workers, community centers, educators, and small businesses are experiencing our new normal. Through Sheltering in Spartanburg, we hope to archive the hopes, fears, frustrations, and celebrations of those living through COVID-19 in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

 

Spartanburg Philharmonic, Kathryn Boucher, Executive Director

Kathryn Boucher, Executive Director, Spartanburg Philharmonic

Tell us about how this has impacted your organization in terms of programming, the ability to carry out your mission.

In March, April, and May, we had to cancel three ticketed concerts and the associated “Classical Conversations” lectures that surrounded these concerts.

Additionally, in these months, we had to cancel our Youth Orchestra weekly rehearsals and their final concert in April. This is truly devastating as this concert featured solos by two of our seniors who had worked tirelessly to showcase their talents for their family and friends. The loss of these rehearsals has been a factor in the ensemble’s cohesiveness and full experience for the first year of our Youth Orchestra.

Our free bi-weekly concerts “Music Sandwiched In,” at the Spartanburg Downtown Library were canceled as well. These concerts provide an opportunity for students, seniors, businessmen and families to enjoy live performances of different genres of music.

The long-term impacts of COVID-19 are most concerning for the Spartanburg Philharmonic. With many data projections showing the desire and intent of audiences to return to the concert hall as very low, we will most likely have to cancel our season for 20–21. We will make these determinations in the next few months using the data that we have available to us.

What collaborations have you formed that you hadn’t thought to do before this? Will this lead to any future/lasting collaborations?

In the wake of government recommended closures and the mandated cancellation of all public events, performing arts organizations across the world have been forced to cancel concerts and shows, effectively limiting the community’s access to quality, live arts. Seeing the need for continued inspiration in this difficult time, the Spartanburg Philharmonic, Ballet Spartanburg, Spartanburg Art Museum and Spartanburg Little Theatre have banded together to form a new partnership—Together SpARTanburg, which seeks to give the community access to the performing arts with regularly scheduled programs available online through social media, and the organizations’ websites.

Each weekday at 10:00am, the Together SpARTanburg partners post episodes designed to engage and entertain viewers of all ages in a fun and meaningful arts experience. The Philharmonic episodes contain musicians at home educating audiences on their instruments, the history of classical music time periods and short performances. The Philharmonic pays our contributors for their time, knowledge and experience for the Together SpARTanburg episodes.

Curtains Up on Community Theater—Virtually

Curtains Up on Community Theater—Virtually

Sandy Staggs, Artistic Director, Proud Mary Theatre Company

by Sandy Staggs, Artistic Director, Proud Mary Theatre Company

The Curtains Up Coalition is a group of Upstate community theater artists creating innovative ways to keep curtains up and audiences inspired. During this challenging time when theater doors remain closed, Curtains Up will produce virtual theatrical content and be a unified front for theater advocacy and fundraising.

“Community theaters are completely shut down during this crazy time. We can’t entertain, engage, inspire, give back, employ artists, or fuel our economy like we normally do—so Curtains Up is here to find innovative ways to inspire, create, and advocate,” says Noah Taylor, Artistic Director of The Market Theatre Company in Anderson, who co-founded the Coalition with Ryan Hewitt, Artistic Director of Greenwood Community Theatre.

Six other organizations, including Foothills Playhouse (Easley), Clemson Little Theatre (Pendleton), Proud Mary Theatre Company (Spartanburg), Mill Town Players (Pelzer), Wild Hare Productions (Greenwood), Greer Cultural Center Arts Council (Greer) and more, have unified to demonstrate the impact and importance of the arts to the community.

The coalition will offer cross-promotion of official Curtains Up events every Wednesday night with spotlights on individual theaters—including donation links for the theater in the spotlight—and multi-theater events such as “Curtains Up Cabaret” on June 10.

Recently, Wild Hare Productions presented an original musical play, Starfish Island, and Proud Mary Theatre Company unveiled their 2020–21 season with musical selections from future shows.

“Proud Mary Theatre is thrilled to be part of this unified presence, especially as a young theatre just in our third season” said Sandy Staggs, Artistic Director of Proud Mary Theatre Company, which also produces readings of new plays every other Tuesday on the company’s Facebook page, such as White Picket Wives, Blue Camp, The Little Pony and the upcoming murder mystery The Vultures.

On Wednesday, May 27, The Market Theatre Company took the spotlight with highlights from three of their musicals which have been postponed due to COVID-19. For the first time, the public will see cast members in action singing songs from Matilda, Mamma Mia!, and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

Hewitt describes the alliance as a way for Upstate community theaters to support each other, have a unified presence for advocating and fundraising, as well as a shared approach to creating unique virtual content for these unprecedented times. Starting now, during this challenging time when theater doors remain closed, Curtains Up will produce virtual theatrical content and be a unified front for theater advocacy and fundraising.

The vision of the Coalition is “Envisioning the future of community arts (theatre) planning to include best practices regarding the health and wellness of our communities while continuing to deliver excellent theatrical content to our supporters. Curtains Up Coalition focuses on collaborative efforts among community theatres by ensuring that the arts, arts organizations, and local artists feel continuing support via the creation of alternative performance and fundraising platforms. These unique and innovative opportunities will help support community theatres to be able to operate regardless of unforeseen blocks to live performance delivery. At the heart of this effort is a desire to explore how community theatres can come together and work in harmony and collaboratively to enhance future operations and programming for community theatres in our region, and thereby preserving both the integrity and importance of the arts for community enrichment.”

“We know that this moment won’t last forever. These plans aim to help community theaters during quarantine and isolation,” said Hewitt. “After this pandemic, the mission of the alliance will remain the same, but specific plans and programs will be reevaluated.”

For more information about the Curtains Up Coalition, visit their Facebook page.

COVID-19 Means Adjustment, but Does Not Change the Mission of Purple Heart Homes

COVID-19 Means Adjustment, but Does Not Change the Mission of Purple Heart Homes

Laurie Bowen, Communications Director, Purple Heart Homes, Golden Corner Chapter

by Laurie Bowen, Communications Director, Purple Heart Homes, Golden Corner Chapter

Purple Heart Homes USA is a 501(c)3 public charity that was founded in 2008 by John Gallina and the late Dale Beatty, two combat wounded veterans. Purple Heart Homes is dedicated to providing housing solutions for service-connected disabled and aging veterans that are substantial in function, design, and quality fit to welcome home the fighting men and women of America. Headquartered in Statesville, NC, Purple Heart Homes USA established its first chapter in Upstate South Carolina in 2013 to better service local veterans. The Golden Corner Chapter serves veterans in Anderson, Pickens and Oconee counties, but we have traveled further when the need requires. Our mission includes providing veterans with free services such as building decks and ramps, widening doorways, renovating bathrooms with walk-in showers, installing grab bars and other home improvements that address safety and accessibility and provide veterans with peace of mind. As of May 2020, we have completed 85 projects and are hoping to reach our 100th veteran served by the end of this year.

Covid-19 has adversely impacted our ability to service local veterans. Many of our 100% volunteer workforce and the veterans we serve are aging and/or have underlying health concerns that make them vulnerable. As a result, we have suspended much of our operations that take us into veterans’ homes during what is typically our busiest time of year. When we are required to enter veterans’ homes, our volunteers wear masks and practice social distancing. We are also limiting our work on veterans’ homes to outdoor projects as much as possible. We are using this time to take new applications and perform project and budgetary planning so that we can resume work when conditions are more favorable. Of the 11 open projects, 5 are in various stages of completion. The remaining 6 will require volunteer teams to have prolonged access to veterans’ homes and are on hold.

Our volunteers have found additional ways to give back during the outbreak. We have raised funds and collected food for veterans who were affected by the tornado in Oconee County and others who lost their jobs due to COVID-19 pandemic. Our Chapter Communications Director, Laurie Bowen, has been sewing masks for veterans, corrections officers, first responders and healthcare workers free of charge. So far, she has donated over 500 masks and more are available. She plans to distribute additional masks to veterans in need through local VA organizations. We have received donations to our chapter from mask recipients, and many have donated to purchase more materials for additional masks. We have also donated N95 masks to volunteers working the Oconee County tornado recovery efforts.

COVID-19 has also limited the ability to raise the funds needed to purchase materials and services for our veteran projects. With 94% of all funding going directly to veteran projects, we rely on the generosity of individuals and local philanthropic organizations who host fundraising events or provide proceeds from thrift stores. The Coronavirus has forced the cancellation or postponement of fundraising events and temporarily shut down retail stores, impacting 2020 revenue. In this great time of need, many local charities are competing for limited resources to carry out our missions.

We are committed to insuring veterans get the help they need to make their homes safe and accessible one home at a time. For more information about volunteering in your area or to file an application, please visit our website.

We are accepting donations Amazon Smile, Facebook and Purple Heart Homes USA website. The Purple Heart Homes Golden Corner Chapter has achieved Guidestar’s Platinum level for transparency in 2019 and 2020.

Upstate Warrior Solution Helps Veterans Navigate COVID-19

Upstate Warrior Solution Helps Veterans Navigate COVID-19

Nate Moore, Director of Community Engagement, Upstate Warrior Solution

by Nate Moore, Director of Community Engagement, Upstate Warrior Solution & U.S. Marine Corps, Retired

“I’m living two paychecks behind right now,” local veteran Chris W. said. Chris was medically separated from the U.S. Marine Corps in 1979 and has spent the last 40 years dealing with the ups and downs of readjusting to life in the “civilian world.”  An unexpected move to Greenville in late 2019 wiped out his savings and made it difficult to pay the high gas bills from January and February. When COVID-19 hit in early March, his financial situation worsened. Because Chris is at a high-risk for COVID-19, he could no longer take public transportation or have people drive him without risking his health. He had to purchase a car to buy groceries and go to the Asheville VA for medical appointments.

The VA referred Chris to Upstate Warrior Solution (UWS) in April. The UWS team walked him through the application process for their COVID-19 Emergency Resource Fund. This is a $50,000 relief fund provided in partnership with the Premier Foundation in Greer, South Carolina. Shortly after he sent in his application, Chris was approved for rent and utility assistance so he could catch up on his bills. “I’m grateful,” Chris wrote to Upstate Warrior Solution. “The help I received fixed two main issues. Since resources are in short supply, the timing was perfect. Thank you to all concerned.”

Many veterans and their families, like Chris, are experiencing new difficulties due to circumstances brought about by COVID-19. Foreseeing this need, Upstate Warrior Solution stayed committed to serving our warrior community even when the pandemic brought the world to a halt in March. This commitment to continue working was conveyed in a letter sent out by UWS Chairman of the Board Mastin Robeson and President Charlie Hall, which said we would contact the all roughly 7,300 Upstate warriors and their families and maintain close contact with our network of community partners.

As the COVID-19 pandemic developed, so did the parameters of how our team continued to serve veterans, service members, first responders, and their families. First, the four offices were closed to walk-ins to reduce the exposure to the virus. Warriors could still come in if they made an appointment. Next, due to the social distancing rules, most of our staff started working remotely. To continue to answer phones and serve warriors who came into our offices, the leadership team and some staff volunteered to come in on specific days so there would always be someone in the offices.

Since March 16, the UWS team has contacted over 2,200 veterans across the Upstate to assess any needs they have, especially those related to the virus. Out of the 304 cases our team has worked over the past two months, 21% have been employment-related. Family services and housing have also been areas of need, comprising 16% and 12% of our case work, respectively. Our outreach was not limited to existing contacts. From March to April, we connected with 208 new veterans and 39 family members.

To date, UWS has awarded a total of $6,235 to eight applicants for the emergency relief fund through Premier Foundation. These funds have provided direct payment of mortgages, utilities, and car repairs for veterans who have been furloughed or are experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. 100% of warriors who have applied for the relief fund have received assistance. In addition to our warrior outreach, we have connected with nearly 300 community partners and 650 supporters, assuring them of our continued engagement during this time

To further serve our warriors during the pandemic, we participated in Giving Tuesday Now, a global day of giving and unity created as an emergency response to COVID-19, on May 5. Our team set a goal to raise $5,000 to support our warriors and provide mirth during a difficult time. We set monetary benchmarks. Once the donations hit those benchmarks, our directors completed a challenge or two to engage our community on Facebook and Instagram. We had a blast as our leaders participated in the ice bucket challenge, a soda can crushing contest, and a surprise appearance from a large pink bunny, resembling Ralphie from “A Christmas Story.”  We finished the day by egging our president then finishing him off with well thrown water balloons. By the end of the week, we were noticed by the community and raised a total of $27,600!

Our team has learned the power of perseverance during the COVID-19 shutdown. As our staff and volunteers who are veterans know all too well, staying dedicated to the mission during challenging circumstances requires teamwork and thinking outside the box. We have benefited as a team over the last several months, learning more about each other and how we can work more effectively and efficiently.

I am thankful to be a successfully transitioned veteran, living in Upstate SC and able to assist my brothers and sisters who have served our country in uniform. I am also incredibly thankful for all our dedicated community partners who have come alongside UWS as a “combined arms” team!

Challenging Times but Also a Time to Be Grateful

Challenging Times but Also a Time to Be Grateful

Catriona Carlisle, Executive Director, Meals on Wheels of Greenville

by Catriona Carlisle, Executive Director, Meals on Wheels of Greenville

Meals on Wheels of Greenville continues to serve nearly 1,900 clients each week during the COVID-19 pandemic by implementing and practicing health and safety protocols for clients, volunteers, and staff. These protocols include a new drive-thru meal pickup service for delivery volunteers, limiting the number of volunteers in the office at each time, providing masks and gloves to all volunteers, and recommending proper hand cleaning in between meal deliveries. Additionally, volunteers are asked to follow new contactless delivery protocols, which include placing meal deliveries on a porch surface or door knob, ringing the doorbell or knocking to notify the client they have arrived, stepping back at least 6 feet and ensuring the client receives their meals. The unwavering support of the Greenville community has ensured that these protocols are followed and have kept many involved in our mission healthy and allows them to continue to serve. We are grateful for the loyalty to our mission!

Over the past 8 weeks, Meals on Wheels has seen a 28% increase in clients who need our service. The hot nutritious meal and personal interaction are important for all of our clients, but during the crisis we have found they need more. The population we serve are the most vulnerable for this virus and they are depending on us. Meals on Wheels has worked hard to expand services to those in need. A small way this has been accomplished is through the distribution of frozen emergency meals, snack supplement bags, personal care supplements, and hygiene kits to clients. Recently, Meals on Wheels of Greenville also announced a partnership with Senior Resources and BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, a program called the Emergency Senior Nutrition Program. This program allows Meals on Wheels to offer three meal distribution sites throughout Greenville County for senior citizen (60+) residents. Sites are offered each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday in Pelzer, Fountain Inn, and Berea in an effort to serve as many in need as possible. Recipients are allowed to pickup once per week from any of these sites and receive 5 frozen meals, free of charge.

Eligibility requirements must be met to receive free meal services from this program. Recipients must be a senior citizen (60+), or a caregiver taking a meal to a senior citizen, and must reside in Greenville County. All recipients must show a state-issued ID and provide a name, address, and phone number at pick-up. Since senior citizens are at the forefront of the COVID-19 crisis, the partnership between Meals on Wheels of Greenville, Senior Resources, and BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina allows us to continue to provide and expand services to those that need it most.

Meals on Wheels of Greenville will continue to serve through the crisis and continues to adapt to the everchanging landscape of what that looks like. Follow COVID-19 updates and learn more about the Emergency Senior Nutrition program at www.MealsonWheelsGreenville.org.

A Word from Furman University President Elizabeth Davis

A Word from Furman University President Elizabeth Davis

Elizabeth Davis, President, Furman University

“Pivot” is a word we’re using a lot these days. It may not feel like it now, but it wasn’t long ago that COVID-19 was an abstract disease happening halfway

around the world. It has since hit Americans and American culture and business with a force we won’t fully understand for years.

So, we pivot, keeping one foot grounded in our typical worlds—work, school, family and friends—while swinging the other around to adjust to new challenges until we find a toehold to do our work and make connections in the most effective way possible.

Countless times over the past several months, Furman University, like you and your organizations across the Upstate, faced challenges. Like you, we kept one foot in our guiding principles and pivoted the other. Professors figured out how to teach remotely, students adjusted to learning from home, and our staff answered myriad new challenges.

Commencement is possibly the most exciting time at Furman, with numerous ceremonies and traditions that celebrate our graduating seniors. Without students on campus, we were faced with how to make our seniors feel special. We pivoted, and last Saturday I did something I never imagined would happen: I conferred degrees to Furman graduates virtually, through a video we emailed to the Furman community and posted on our website.

It is impressive and encouraging to see others in the Upstate respond so deftly. Prisma Health, our campus medical partner, quickly set up drive-through COVID-19 testing and launched technology to help people determine if they needed to be tested.

Humimic Medical, a Greenville company that recently hired one of our students, switched from producing medical simulation materials to making face shields that nurses and doctors use as part of their protective equipment. Heath Hawkins, a new Furman alumnus and Humimic’s new employee, joined the company in the fall as an intern. Heath pivoted in a major way; he now leads the company’s sales and marketing strategy for its new product.

Danny Merck, superintendent of Pickens County School District and a fellow in The Riley Institute’s Diversity Leaders Initiative, mobilized his food service workers and his school bus drivers to deliver 12,500 meals a week to students far and wide who depend on school for a nutritious meal. In an interview with The Riley Institute, Superintendent Merck reminded everyone that caring for people is every organization’s primary responsibility. “It’s about ‘who,’ not ‘what.’ If you protect the people you hire, they’re always going to be more motivated to serve the people they work with, the students. We have made sure that our plan was not built on the production of the employee, but instead on the well-being of the employee.”

Furman Innovation and Entrepreneurship pivoted, too, moving their popular Summer Business and Entrepreneurship Bootcamp to a virtual format, accommodating 50 students from eight universities across the Southeast. For more than two weeks, students will hear from business leaders and entrepreneurs, engaging in a mentoring program and delivering a capstone project. Thanks to the Greenville Local Development Corporation, more than 10 students will have paid virtual internships with NEXT partner companies following the bootcamp.

I’ve also been inspired by stories of Furman alumni, those who had no choice but to pivot and those who chose to do so despite knowing the dangers that awaited. Anna Downs was a fourth-year medical student in Kentucky who contracted COVID-19 and spent nearly 10 days as a patient. She recently graduated. The CEO of KershawHealth, Sue Shugart, was in her position less than six months when her hospital became ground zero for COVID-19 in the state. Jonathan Davis is an emergency medicine doctor in Georgia, and his friend Ben Daxon is an anesthesiologist at the Mayo Clinic; they each volunteered to work a week in New York City hospitals, caring for patients dying of the virus.

There are countless other examples that make me proud to be the president of Furman and a citizen of the Upstate.

At Furman, we’re working through plans for a safe and successful return to campus in the fall. While none of us knows what the future looks like for our respective organizations, we should all know that we have the skill and talent to figure it out. The pandemic has shown all of us that we can pivot to adjust to whatever challenge comes our way.

 

 

 

Elizabeth Davis, President